Good Hope becomes a top Cox Plate chance
REGALLY bred future Coolmore stallion prospect Cape Of Good Hope has rocketed into contention to win the $5 million Cox Plate after an eye-catching Australian debut in Saturday's Caulfield Stakes.
Cape Of Good Hope edged out warrior Black Heart Bart in a driving finish to bank a golden ticket into the Cox Plate, Australia's richest and most prestigious weight-for-age assignment.
Lindsay Park now has iron grip on the Cox Plate, with Australian Cup winner Harlem running third in the race and shooting for a $1 million bonus if successful at the Valley.
Trainer David Hayes exuded confidence after Cape Of Good Hope's win.
"We got something to work with," he said.
"He's been working at Newmarket like Criterion, at that level, and we really felt that with the 100-1 shots winning weight-for-age (races here), we were in it with a real chance.
"We copied the Criterion program and it paid off again."
Cape Of Good Hope settled near last in the run but found clear galloping room as the field fanned on the turn, before he balanced up and run over the top of Black Heart Bart.
Harlem, who came off the back of Homesman in the straight, nosed out Avilius for third with Humidor hunting up along the rail.
Hayes declared Cape Of Good Hope would only improve next start after being held to light duties while in quarantine at Werribee.
"Last season a few horses went wrong there (at Werribee) and he's a big investment," Hayes said.
"If he didn't run well he could improve by stepping the work up but I won't be stepping the work up, I'll keep him exactly the same going into the Cox Plate."
Cape Of Good Hope is a full brother to Cox Plate placegetter and international Group 1 star turned stallion Highland Reel.
"He's got probably one of the better pedigrees in the world so we thought the Cox Plate and the Mackinnon were his two main aims and this was a nice warm-up race," Hayes said.
"I think he's a high-class horse and he beat a high- class horse, a hard nut to crack on his day.
"Black Heart Bart is like (dual Cox Plate winner) Fields Of Omagh, they're hard horses to beat at that age when they're right."
Hayes yesterday gave Harlem a nice push for the Cox Plate also.
"His coat hasn't come through yet, he'll keep improving and he's worth a run I'd say."
- Leo Schlink
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